Re: Exemplar Characters

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Nov 16 2005 - 10:54:16 CST

  • Next message: Mark E. Shoulson: "Re: Exemplar Characters"

    From: "Michael Everson" <>
    > At 23:09 -0800 2005-11-15, Doug Ewell wrote:
    >>Right, but the two sides often disagree fundamentally on "commonly used."
    >>Is e-with-acute a "commonly used" letter in English because of borrowings
    >>like résumé and café?
    > Yes.

    These borrowed words are commonly used in English. They use uncommon letters
    for English, and that's why they are *also* commonly written without the
    accents (i.e. it is acceptable too in English to write "cafe" or "resume"
    even if this creates an ambiguity, where the English word "resume" is
    different from the actual "short summary" meaning of the word "résumé"; I
    think that "résumé" was borrowed because it offers a distinction with the
    alternate "table of contents" meaning of "summary").

    For this reason, the e with accute should not be part of the examplar set,
    but of the auxiliary set, to mark the fact that they are part of a correct
    english set of characters, which are widely recognized by readers and often
    preferred to the letters without the accent ("résumé" is preferred to
    "resume" where appropriate to solve an ambiguity).

    In French, "résumé" always designates the short summary of a longer text
    (alsorefered to as an "abstract" in English). The French for "resume" is the
    latin expression "curriculum vitae" (or the more common acronym "C.V.").

    The french for "summary" is "sommaire" which has two functions whever it is
    a noun (where it unambiguously designates table of contents), or an
    adjective (where it roughly means "simple" or "simplistic").

    Similarly, the English term "abstract" has two unambiguous meaning whever it
    is a noun (roughly the same as the English "résumé" borrowed from French) or
    an adjective (similar to the French adjective "abstrait" which is never used
    as a noun but used in opposition to the French adjective "concret", or
    "concrete" in English, the later having also two distinct meanings whever it
    is a noun or an adjective!).

    Generally, words are borrowed from another language, when it offers extra
    precision or distinctions for a more general term whose various meanings
    have created ambiguities. Often, the orthography is adapted, unless such
    simplification creates more ambiguities. A good example is "résumé".

    I don't know if "café" in English is used as a distinction of the coffea and
    snack shop (may be the expression "coffea shop" has borrowed some other
    meaning from dutch, where you can drink coffea but also buy some other
    non-food products), or if it is used also to designate the coffea drink, or
    the raw agriculture product. I'd say that "café" is now widely used in US,
    possibly with alternate orthographs (remember the excellent film "Bagdad
    Café" taking place in US Mid-West, and I'm quite sure that this film has
    contributed to the popularity of the term in US and in many other places).

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